£8m missing disability funds to be reinstated

Foyle Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney.
Foyle Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney.
  • Foyle MLA congratulates families for campaign to stop withdrawal of funding

Local families who have campaigned to stop millions of pounds a year being redirected from learning disability services, have been praised after the Western Trust confirmed it will reinstate the funding.

Foyle Sinn Fein MLA, Raymond McCartney, said he has now received assurances from senior Trust managers that the funding deficit for Learning Disability Services has been resolved.

Mr McCartney said that the Trust has confirmed that it has put in place measures that will reinstate the funding in full over the coming financial year. The senior management team gave a further assurance that both the Trust and the Health and Social Care Board is planning for an additional investment in Learning Disability services, with £2.5m this year in addition to the £3m recurring monies, ahead of £8m year-on-year being reinstated by next year.

In welcoming the announcement by the Trust, Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said: “Our party has fully supported the demands of the parent’s representative group Western Learning Disability Action Group (WLDAG) who have been campaigning on the matter since March, 2016, when it was first identified that there was an underfunding issue.

“Myself and Martin McGuinness met with the group in May, 2016, and Michelle O’Neill who was the Health Minister, also met with the group on a number of occasions and offered support.”

In February this year Ms O’Neill appointed an independent facilitator to work with the families and carers of people with learning disabilities and the Trust in order to restore confidence to find ways to resolve the situation.

Mr McCartney said: “I want to congratulate all those parents and organisations that worked to get a resolution to this problem. Services to people with learning disabilities have been greatly impacted by the underfunding in the past. I look forward to people getting access to better services and facilities in the future.

“The commitment by the Trust to involve parents, carers and service users using PPI principles in the design and delivery of services in the future is a positive step that could be the precursor for future models of good practice throughout the wider Health Service.”